On Saturday, December 3, Flushing Town Hall is hosting a free, live concert performance of Illegal: A New Musical, featuring book, music and lyrics by Skyler Chin and Sita Sunil at 7:00 p.m. Illegal is an historical fiction musical about America’s first “illegal” immigrants and their journey to becoming American during the Chinese Exclusion era. The all Asian American creative team and cast of Illegal shines a light on this dark chapter of American history with drama and comedy, colorful characters, and an energetic, mixed genre musical score — think Hamilton meets Bruce Lee. Flushing Town Hall is located at 137-35 Northern Blvd, Queens, NY 11354. Click here to reserve free tickets.
“We’re honored to cap off an exciting year of performances with a full length staged concert reading at the historic Flushing Town Hall,” said creator Skyler Chin. “We always love performing for the community and hearing from people of all backgrounds who can relate to the common threads in this story — family, immigration, and dreams of a better life,” said co-writer Sita Sunil.
Chin was inspired to create Illegal when he learned about his grandfather’s detainment and interrogation in 1923, and when he saw the powerful poetry carved into the walls by hundreds of detainees at the Angel Island Immigration Station in the San Francisco Bay. Illegal confronts the history of anti-Asian prejudice experienced by immigrants like his ancestors and by many who still face discrimination a century later. For Chin, “it’s important to learn from the past but also to honor the humanity and fighting spirit of those who persevered, allowing future Americans to proudly tell their stories.”
Illegal was named a Semi-Finalist for the 2022 National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. This year, Illegal has been presented in New York in Manhattan, Long Island, Queens, and the Bronx, and in California at UC Berkeley and the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco.
It’s 1923. The U.S. is enforcing the Chinese Exclusion Act by systematically separating families and imprisoning them on Angel Island. A budding female martial artist is wrongly blamed for her brother’s death and forced to flee war-torn China for America with a poor, imposter “paper” brother and his rich, goofy best friend. If they can survive detention and convince interrogators that they’re siblings and legally allowed to enter the country, they may get a shot at a new life. They cross paths with a precocious little girl and an American born Chinese interpreter who must choose between personal success and justice for immigrants. Inspired by family secrets and detainee poetry, Illegal asks the timely and timeless question, “What does it take to be(come) American?”
The cast features Subin Kara Ahn as Lai Wah, Sam Mom, Angel Island Poet; Skyler Chin as Slim Chin, Kai Chung, Mr. White; Nicholas Leung as Wong Fat Pork, Angel Island Poet; Anna Stacy as Sam Kee Lin; Sita Sunil as Interpreter Carter Lee; and Miguel Sutedjo as PB Jones, Hong Kong Colonial Cop, Wong Dad, Sam Dad.
Steve Mecha – Director of Production at Flushing Town Hall
Dan Bamba – Director, Art Services at Flushing Town Hall
Howard Sang – Chinese Community Center of Flushing Team
This program is supported by funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, Statewide Community Regrants Program (formerly the Decentralization program) with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and administered by Flushing Town Hall.